What are the Different Levels of Body Armor?

What are the Different Levels of Body Armor?

There are various personal aspects to consider while purchasing body armor. These include the situation you are prepared for, the desired protection level, and the amount of weight and mobility you are comfortable wearing. Levels of ballistic protection normally run from level 2A to level 4, with each level being heavier but providing greater protection than before. They are not only heavier but also more costly as you move up the scale. While this might vary depending on the material used to make your vest, you and your wallet must deal with it.




A bulletproof vest of class IIA will stop 9mm handgun rounds. This used to be the norm for police officers to wear. However, it is now highly useless for day-to-day tasks due to the abundance of weaponry and calibers. In today's world, most police departments utilize at least level IIIA for patrol personnel. While it has a place in the world, the price difference between 2A and 3A isn't big enough to justify choosing 2A over 3A in any case when both are accessible.


The current police soft body armor protection standard is level 3A plates (level IIIA). All pistol bullets up to.44 magnum and 12 gauge shotgun slugs may be stopped by this degree of Level 3A body armor. This is the most prevalent type of body armor available today and is primarily utilized by police officers. For various reasons, this armor is incredibly lightweight and can be worn all day without causing a substantial or apparent drain on stamina. Second, unlike hard armor steel or PE plates, this armor has some give and can fit your body. Three, most crimes in the contemporary ERA are committed with pistols or shotguns, with rifles used in only a few cases. Bulletproof level IIIA vest is not only less expensive than higher-level – rifle rate armor but is also lighter, more comfortable to wear, protects against actual attacks, and can be concealed if needed.


Regarding rifle protection, “Level III hard armor plates, like the AR500 Level 3, are the gold standard. Level 3 plates are lightweight and are rated to stop threats up to.308 caliber. This implies you may walk about with armor plates capable of stopping the majority of the most common rounds fired by the world's most common rifles, including the AR-15 (.223/5.56), FN-FAL (7.62/.308), and AKM (7.62/5.45). Level 3 body armor plates provide a lot of adaptabilities in that they can stop all of these rounds without being too heavy like these Sleek 2.0  AR500 Level III and Ballistic Sleek Level III. They are generally significantly cheaper than the following levels of body armor protection, level 3+ and level 4.

Furthermore, level 3 plates can be constructed entirely of PE, a lightweight, DURABLE polymer. Higher degrees of protection, such as level 3+ and level 4 plates, must also be composed of ceramic materials. While these materials are encased with PE, they are not as resistant and can break if struck hard enough. As a result, despite being unable to stop as many rounds, level 3 plates are frequently seen as superior to level 3+ and level 4 plates.


Level 3+ plates, like the AR600 Level III+, are stop-gap plates between levels III and IV. They are not formally recognized by the NIJ board but serve an essential role in this business. Level 3+ plates are for individuals who require more protection against threats in addition to the usual 5.56 and 7.62 rounds available. Still, they do not require Level 4 plates, like the Sleek 2.0 AR600 Level III+ and Ballistic Sleek Level III+ due to the additional weight, not to mention the expenditures such plates involve. Level III+ plates employ PE similarly to Level 3 plates but also include ceramic tiles commonly seen inside Level 4 plates. As a result, level 3+ plates are significantly stronger, and while they cannot stop full-on AP rounds, they can stop M855A1 EPR 5.56 bullets. These M855 bullets, popularly known as "green tips" because of the green marks on the tip of each bullet, have increased penetrating characteristics that allow them to penetrate level 3 standard armor.


In terms of personal protection, a Level 4 ceramic plate or a Level 4 body armor are the industry's top dogs. Level 4 plates, like level 3+ plates, are constructed of a combination of PE and Ceramic, allowing them to stop rounds as small as.30 CAL APM2. Level IV Ceramic plates, like those in the Sleek 2.0 Level IV Ceramic, come in at only 6.3 pounds per plate. While lesser choices save money, the weight increases, with people now carrying anywhere from 14.6 pounds on them just for front and back plate protection, like the NIJ Level IV body armor. In contrast, the protection provided by these plates is excellent, but it comes at an increased cost if you choose the Steel Armor alternatives.


RTS Tactical offers a large range of Body Armor options click below to see more:


Level IIIA Armor 

Level III Armor 

Level III+ Armor 

Level IV Armor 

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